Abstract

Virilastacus jarai, a new species of burrowing crayfish, collected in the Intermediate Depression of the Biobío Region in central-southern Chile is described. This is the fourth species of Virilastacus, a genus endemic to Chile, to be described to date. Features that distinguish V. jarai from its congeneric species are: 1) rostral carina, short, slightly prominent and widely separated from the orbital margin; 2) pilous dorsal side of the opposable margin of the P1 propodus, as is the basal zone of the ventral side, 11 to 22 teeth on its opposable margin; 3) dorsal surface of the P1 dactylus close to the opposable border, hirsute; external distal border of the ischiopodite of the third maxilliped with a large extension that ends in the form of a right angle; 4) precervical cephalothorax with dorsal ridges absent, or with two or four; 5) areola, wide and extended; 6) telson with small, but sharp, lateral spines. Morphologically, this new species is similar to Virilastacus araucanius and V. retamali, with whom it shares 14 of the 27 morphological attributes analyzed, nine of which are common to these three species. These same attributes (13 of 14) differentiate V. jarai from V. rucapihuelensis, with whom it only shares seven morphological traits. The morphological similarity of V. jarai with V. araucanius and V. retamali contrasts with the degree of genetic divergence that exists between these species. Finally, the IUCN Red List Criteria are used to assign the conservation status of “Critically Endangered” to this new species.

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